What Is High-Risk Pregnancy?

Posted On Dec 23, 2019

Department of

Manipal Hospitals

Becoming a mother is one of the most special experiences in a woman’s life. The health and well-being of the fetus during the pregnancy and of the baby after giving birth depends on the health of the mother. This can be ensured through regular antenatal care. In the absence of regular health check-ups, the safety of the mother and the child may be compromised and a condition known as high-risk pregnancy may set in.

What is High-Risk Pregnancy?

A high-risk pregnancy is one where the health of the mother or her fetus is endangered due to some potential complications which require intervention from specialists to ensure the best possible outcome for both the mother and the child. Such complications can arise due to unforeseen illnesses or preexisting diseases.

Risk Factors for High-Risk Pregnancy

For a pregnancy to be categorized as a high-risk one, the following factors must be present:

  • Complications in a previous pregnancy: Although not guaranteed to result in any complication in future pregnancies, complications such as premature delivery, pregnancy losses, preeclampsia, or other medical disorders  In the previous pregnancy are valid grounds for classifying the present pregnancy as a high-risk one.
  • Pre-existing health conditions: Any prior health condition such as hypertension, cardiac disease, liver and blood complications, placenta previa, antepartum bleeding, autoimmune diseases, thyroid, endocrine and renal disorders, HIV, anemia etc. can exacerbate a normal pregnancy and result in a high-risk one.
  • Multiple births: The risk of complications is higher in women carrying multiple fetuses as opposed to those carrying a single fetus.
  • Lifestyle: Women who smoke cigarettes, consume alcohol, indulge in substance abuse, and who are obese are in greater danger of having a high-risk pregnancy.
  • Maternal Age: Pregnant women who are under the age of 17 or aged over 35 years are at a greater risk of suffering from complications such as preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure.
  • Blood disorders: Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia etc. put an extra burden on the body and can aggravate the pregnancy in a woman.
  • Neurological problems: Women suffering from neurological problems such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, any psychiatric illness etc. are also more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy.

Will the baby be normal in case of a high-risk pregnancy?

Good prenatal care can make it possible to have a healthy baby. In the event of a high-risk pregnancy, it is essential to consult a qualified healthcare professional for the well-being of both the mother and the child.

Some health conditions, as well as the drugs prescribed to manage them, can pose a risk to the baby’s health. However, stopping medications that are being taken for a condition can also be harmful. In such cases, it might be necessary to change the drugs that are being taken for a condition and opt for another medication that is considered safe during pregnancy.

How to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and what is the treatment for a high-risk pregnancy?

There are a few things that can be done to manage a high-risk pregnancy, including:

  • Prepare for pregnancy by scheduling a preconception visit with a doctor. This will help incorporate any changes needed for a normal pregnancy.
  • Seeking regular prenatal care to continuously monitor the health of the mother and the child.
  • Following a healthy diet with more vital nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, iron, prenatal vitamins etc. during pregnancy.
  • Avoiding habits such as smoking, drinking, and consuming drugs
  • Seek the emotional support of family and friends.
  •  Avoid being stressed as much as possible by keeping oneself productive. For example, following a hobby, practicing yoga, meditation etc.
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